PH drug war not a model for any country, says UN rights chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2019 11:47 PM

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2019. Denis Balibouse, Reuters

MANILA - The government's anti-narcotics campaign should not be used by any country as a model to solve the illegal-drugs problem, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said Wednesday.

"The drug policies in place in the Philippines, and its lack of respect for rule of law and international standards, should not be considered a model by any country," Michelle Bachelet said in a speech at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, who recently visited the country, once praised the Philippines' "war on drugs" as worth emulating by the world.

Bachelet urged the Philippines to adopt a public health approach and harmless initiatives that comply with human rights standards.

"People who have fallen into the trap of drug reliance need help to rebuild their lives; drug policies should not be more of a threat to their lives than the drugs they are abusing," she said.

The former president of Chile noted that only the "widely reported killing of a teenage boy" was subject to investigation and prosecution despite some 27,000 alleged cases of killings related to the drug war.

In November 2018, three police officers were found guilty of murder for the August 2017 slay of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, who was shot for allegedly resisting arrest. But surveillance footage showed the teenager was dragged into a dark alley.

Bachelet added that she is concerned with congressional bills that seek to revive the death penalty for drug-related crimes and reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old

In January, congressmen approved on final reading a bill lowering the age of "social" liability to 12 years old. It seeks to amend provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts children 15 years old and younger from criminal liability.

Last month, the House of Representatives withdrew its approval of a bill that imposes the death penalty for drug offenses.

Bachelet also noted that human rights defenders, UN special rapporteurs, journalists and opposition politicians have been "threatened, attacked and jailed" by authorities.

A rights watchdog earlier urged the government to end its "war" against human rights defenders.

Malacañang denied the claim, saying it is only waging a war against "criminals, including drug pushers, and their protectors."